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    This Stunning Photoshoot Proves There's Room For More Than One Woman In Hip Hop

    "These girls are the new voices of our generation. And women like them have pushed the culture forward in unimaginable ways, from hair to style to clothing."

    So you know how magazines have those annual issues that showcase up-and-coming talent in TV, film, and music? Well, journalist Talia "Binx" Smith had never seen one dedicated to women in hip hop, so she decided to create it herself.

    Photography by Chris Spivey

    And thus "Women in Hip-Hop: The Voices of Our Generation" was born. Recently published in PAPER, the first-of-its-kind editorial highlights 14 of rap's brightest, and arguably most underrated, rising stars in a series of in-depth interviews and stunning portraits by Patrick Chen.

    Photography by Patrick Chen

    Included in the feature are Rico Nasty, Asian Doll, Cuban Doll, Yung Miami of City Girls, Bri Steves, Melii, Saweetie, Kamaiyah, Bali Baby, Maliibu Mitch, Dreezy, Queen Key (not pictured), CoIle Ray (not pictured), and Molly Brazy (not pictured.) Due to the large casting and varying schedules, Patrick photographed the artists in groups of three over the course of three days and then edited them all into one photo.

    Not only did Binx conceptualize, pitch, produce, and art direct the ambitious feature, but she also conducted and wrote each artist interview herself. "It took so much to put together as a freelancer," the 21-year-old told BuzzFeed. "Ten months of blood, sweat, and tears."

    Patrick Chen

    The final product celebrates a group of resilient young women blossoming in spite of their industry's male-dominated environment, ultimately changing the face and sound of hip hop and, in turn, American culture.

    Photography by Patrick Chen

    "All the girls who were on set together got along just fine and supported each other," Binx recalled. "Some had never met each other in real life before so they got to know each other and talk and they all were supportive of each other."

    "These girls are the new voices of our generation," Binx continued. "And women like them have pushed the culture forward in unimaginable ways, from hair to style to clothing. I wanted to be able to put this on a large scale."

    Photography by Patrick Chen

    "I wanted to have these important conversations in the age of Trump when we're constantly silenced and overlooked," she said further. "The impact black women have had on culture has been astronomical. I’ve seen how much culture is produced by black women, but also how [that same culture] is only acceptable or seen as valuable once someone who’s not a black woman is the holder of it."

    While each artist's professional journey and personal background varies, similar stories of hardships, rejection, self-determination, and triumph surfaced throughout all 14 interviews; an intentional move by Binx, who aimed to "celebrate artists who have learned to own their voices and their agency through many ups and downs."

    Photography by Patrick Chen

    "No matter the odds stacked against them, they have used their voices to send a clear message; not with permission, but by right," she explained. "I intended to celebrate the new generation of hip hop and what they brought and contributed to the culture, now in the moment. As June Jordan says, 'We are the ones we've been waiting for.'"

    And by having the rappers literally and physically stand united, this historic photoshoot also challenges the longtime myth about all women rappers being unable to get along. Although, as Binx pointed out, certain girls who've previously beefed with one another were shot on different days for both scheduling reasons and comfortability on set.

    Photography by Patrick Chen

    "I saw that a few online trolls were looking for loop holes as to why these girls can't come together and trying to discredit [the shoot] because not all of the artists shot together," she mentioned. "But I think that feeds into the larger problem of people pitting them against each other. The message of unity still stands; because even though not all of the girls shot together, they all knew who would be included in the photo with them and loved the idea of being featured alongside each other, taking a stance on unity."

    Of course, Binx would love to do future shoots with modern day icons like Nicki Minaj and Cardi B, as well as "some of the legends" from previous generations: "I think a moment like that is really needed for hip hop."

    Photography by Patrick Chen

    "Too often, media outlets try to paint this idea that there can only be one," she added. "There has and always will be room for everyone. We just need to change the narratives that the media puts out there."

    As for this photoshoot, the self-proclaimed activist hopes the stories and images will encourage young black and Afro-Latino women to define themselves, for themselves, and support one another. "At the end of the day our voices are stronger when we stand together," Binx said.

    Photography by Patrick Chen

    "We are not one-dimensional, we come in so many unique and different forms, so it’s important we not allow ourselves to be boxed in to how people think we should act or the feed into the negativity online that tries to put us against each other," she concluded. "Because we are so unique as black and brown women and we have so much raw talent and creativity to give the world."

    Head to PAPER to check out the full feature.